Van Persie predicts Walcott goal haul


Arsenal captain Robin van Persie has backed Theo Walcott to score 20 goals in a season.

The England international produced a superb performance in the 7-1 demolition of Blackburn Rovers, setting up three goals during a torrid afternoon for the Premier League strugglers.

Van Persie and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took the brunt of the plaudits, but according to the Dutchman, Walcott's contribution is just as important for the Gunners this term.

"I love him, I honestly love him,” said Van Persie. “I don't understand the criticism. On Saturday he gave three very clear assists, two for me and one for Alex.

"He was sharp, he was playing fantastically and, like anyone, he misses chances. But I miss chances. Ronaldo misses chances, Messi misses chances. It's life, you know.

"Sometimes I feel that people are a bit harsh on him. I don't know why. If you look at his assists rate then it is unbelievable. And he will score. Trust me, he will score. He will get 20 goals at least every season. You will see. Have faith in him.

"He has given me so many assists. And for me, if you give an assist then it is worth a goal, especially if you give a great assist. It is as important as scoring a goal. For me he gave two simple tap-ins. That makes it more his goal than my goal.”

Walcott has netted six goals this season, but lies fifth in the assist league with seven.

His disappointing form this term has led to concerns over his place in England's squad for the summer's European Championships, with Oxlade-Chamberlain one of those vying for selection in Fabio Capello's squad for the tournament in Poland & Ukraine.

The pair's career has followed similar paths, both having signed from Southampton after graduating from the St Mary's academy.

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